Recalls and new faces in Italy squad

Alberto Sgarbi could be in line for a first cap in six years after being named in a 35-man Italy squad for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.

Alberto Sgarbi could be in line for a first cap in six years after being named in a 35-man Italy squad for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.

The experienced Benetton centre last appeared for Italy on a summer tour to Fiji back in 2014, but has been rewarded for his efforts with a recall having captained the franchise in their recent rise.

Elsewhere Franco Smith has brought in three new faces, Zebre prop Danilo Fischetti who was called into the squad for the World Cup but did not play due to Typhoon Hagibis, Benetton lock Niccolò Cannone and Zebre full-back Michelangelo Biondelli.

And Smith is hopeful that the blend of youth and experience will serve the team well in their campaign.

He said: “In the squad we have a mixed of experienced players and youngsters who want to establish themselves on the international stage. Everyone’s contributions will be crucial from the start to prepare the opening game of a Championship which gets more competitive and compelling all the time.”

Another man who makes his return to the squad is Marcello Violi, the Zebre scrum-half who had been first choice prior to a succession of injuries that kept him sidelined for much of last season.

Sergio Parisse does not feature, with Italy’s most-capped player ever set to feature only in the home games in this year’s Championship, his last with the Azzurri.

The Italy squad will meet in Rome for a training camp between January 19 and 26, before heading to Verona to prepare for their Championship opener away to Grand Slam champions Wales in Cardiff on February 1.

Italy squad for the 2020 Guinness Six Nations

Props Pietro CECCARELLI (Edinburgh Rugby, 9 caps) Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Rugby Club, uncapped) Andrea LOVOTTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 40 caps) Marco RICCIONI (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps) Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Zebre Rugby Club, 2 caps)

Hookers Luca BIGI (Zebre Rugby Club, 24 caps) Oliviero FABIANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 caps) Federico ZANI (Benetton Rugby 13 caps)

Second row Dean BUDD (Benetton Rugby, 26 caps) Niccolò CANNONE (Argos Petrarca Rugby/Benetton Rugby, uncapped) Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 18 caps) David SISI (Zebre Rugby Club, 9 caps) Alessandro ZANNI (Benetton Rugby, 117 caps)

Back row Marco LAZZARONI (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps) Giovanni LICATA (Zebre Rugby Club, 8 caps) Johan MEYER (Zebre Rugby Club, 4 caps) Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 22 caps) Jake POLLEDRI (Gloucester Rugby, 13 caps) Abraham STEYN (Benetton Rugby, 36 caps)

Scrum-halves Callum BRALEY (Gloucester Rugby, 5 caps) Guglielmo PALAZZANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 36 caps) Marcello VIOLI (Zebre Rugby Club, 15 caps)

Fly-halves Tommaso ALLAN (Benetton Rugby, 54 caps) Carlo CANNA (Zebre Rugby Club, 39 caps)

Centres Giulio BISEGNI (Zebre Rugby Club, 14 caps) Tommaso BONI (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps) Luca MORISI (Benetton Rugby, 29 caps) Alberto SGARBI (Benetton Rugby, 29 caps)

Back three Mattia BELLINI (Zebre Rugby Club, 22 caps) Tommaso BENVENUTI (Benetton Rugby, 62 caps) Michelangelo BIONDELLI (Fiamme Oro Rugby/Zebre Rugby Club, uncapped) Jayden HAYWARD (Benetton Rugby, 23 caps) Matteo MINOZZI (Wasps Rugby, 16 caps) Edoardo PADOVANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 24 caps) Leonardo SARTO (Benetton Rugby 34 caps)